This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
Volume XXXVII, Number 3 - Summer 2011
Ephrata Cloister's Saal, or Meetinghouse, originally constructed in 1741 for the community's married Householders, was later used for worship services.
"Summertime, and the livin' is easy." DuBose Heyward's lyrics for George Gerswhin's aria Summertime - now a time-honored jazz standard - for the 1935 opera Porgie and Bess are as timeless as they are popular.
Summer in Pennsylvania is an ideal time to visit the historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) for many reasons. In his article entitled "Discovering Religious Diversity Along the Pennsylvania Trails of History ®," John K. Robinson highlights several PHMC destinations underscoring the agency's annual theme for 2011, "William Penn's Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity." A former colleague, John knows these historic sites and museums well and offers readers (and visitors) a sampling of exhibits awaiting them. His feature is accompanied by a map pinpointing selected attractions, which makes traveling to these destinations easy.
Timing is everything (an adage credited to none other than William Shakespeare) and perfect for this edition is Myra K. Jacobsohn's "Peter Kalm in Pennsylvania" tracing the eighteenth-century Swedish naturalist's travels in Pennsylvania and the discoveries he made. Two familiar plants, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and Kalm's St. Johnswort (Hypericum kalmianum) are named in his honor. It was Governor Gifford Pinchot, an ardent conservationist, who signed legislation on May 5, 1933, making Kalm's namesake, the mountain laurel, Pennsylvania's official state flower.
Willis L. Shirk Jr., author of Our Documentary Heritage installments and a Spring 2009 article about America's first commercial nuclear power plant, at Shippingport, Beaver County, "'Atoms for Peace' in Pennsylvania" chronicles the Keystone State's contributions to nuclear-powered space travel with "Aiming for the Stars: The Forgotten Legacy of the Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory." His story is fascinating and recalls the fervor and excitement of the space age, during which dreams of flight far beyond earth were limited only by imagination.
This edition debuts Amy Killpatrick Fox's Trailheads, a regularly appearing department bringing you news about innovative programs, projects, and developments at PHMC's historic sites and museums, as well as contributions made by our loyal Friends and Associates groups. Read all about Drake Well Museum's building expansion and the people - staff, volunteers, and donors - who made it possible. Without them, a project of such magnitude would not have been possible.
News, also making its inaugural appearance in this issue, announces the discovery of a previously unknown dinosaur at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg! This department is designed to give us an opportunity to inform readers about late-breaking news.
Many other departments, including Curator's Choice, Lost and Found, Marking Time, Sharing the Common Wealth, and Wish You Were Here! reiterate our theme for 2011. I hope you enjoy.
Summertime. The livin' is easy. And Pennsylvania's historic sites and museums await you. Travel well!
With best wishes.
Michael J. O'Malley III